What Laws Should Pass By Majority Vote?

Via Booman, Mary Landrieu says:

I’m not for using reconciliation for healthcare — I’m just not.” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). “If we couldn’t get a bill through the Congress that had broad support, I said we shouldn’t have a bill.”

This is an interesting position it seems to me and begs the question - what bills should pass by majority vote? What about tax cuts? Landrieu voted for the Bush tax cuts in 2001, which were passed via reconciliation. Or how about the prescription drug benefit bill? That passed 54-44. Landrieu was a yea vote.

I guess the answer is - it depends. To Landrieu, THIS bill should not pass with less than 60 votes. But other bills should pass without 60 votes. Whatever. In any event, Landrieu can vote No if she likes. And if 50 Dem Senators do not want to pass a health bill, well, that's the way that goes sometimes.

Speaking for me only

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    Didn't the framers (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 09:41:30 AM EST
    Have this in mind?  While the Senate can make its own rules, the Framers specifically laid out those instances when more than a majority rule was needed (vote override, for example).  

    Now, I certainly can't speak for James Madison et al, but it seems to me that their intent was that we have a majority-rule government - not a "filibuster proof" government.  

    D from H (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 03:45:13 PM EST
    before offering boilerplate condemnations of somebody's comment, you might first consider actually reading what it says, OK?

    I think you owe the poster an apology here.


    Exactly what I said (none / 0) (#30)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 01:52:34 PM EST
    The whole idea of needing super majorities to avoid a filibuster seems contrary to what the Framers had in mind.

    I just said it in a more succinct manner.


    I remember when the Repubs (none / 0) (#34)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 04:27:04 PM EST
    were threatening the nuclear option and 99% of the commentators here were explaining why they shouldn't do that...


    Standards...double, etc.


    Coming from a member of a body like (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 09:42:52 AM EST
    the Senate which is more and more exposed as unrepresentative of the will of the people, her comment about "broad support" is dubious at best.

    There is broad support for a better bill that might come through reconciliation amongst the public.  Landrieu doesn't seem to think that we count where it comes to concept of support, though.

    What a damned hypocrite she is (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 09:49:05 AM EST
    And considering the damage being done to human beings and the defiance of the will of the people that her hypocrisy demands, she is a criminal hypocrite!

    What I always remember about (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 03:48:43 PM EST
    sweet Mary Landrieu is the vote she cast some years ago AGAINST some new OSHA rules to protect laborers in chicken-processing plants, one of the nastiest, most poorly paid, most physically debilitating jobs in the country, and of which there are many in her state.

    How can you possibly justify voting to prolong the misery and exploitation of your own constituents that way?

    I totally wrote her off as a four-letter word after that vote.


    Landrieu (none / 0) (#22)
    by cal1942 on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 12:05:05 PM EST
    claims she wants broad support but seems unwilling to consider the support of the House and its 435 members that directly represent (sort of) the people.

    What's the definition of (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Anne on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 01:47:48 PM EST
    "broad support?"

    More than a simple majority?  Sixty votes?  What if there were only 59?  Would that make it so much less broad as to make it unacceptable?

    Sheesh.  Maybe we could also discuss how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  Just for fun.

    Seems to me sometimes that all this broad support/bipartisanship baloney does is allow all involved to avoid the blame if it doesn't work out; they can all point at each other and say, "you can't blame Democrats, Republicans voted for it, too!" and vice-versa.

    What happened to each party having clear differences in philosophy and ideology, such that elections were actual referenda on each party's performance?  When did Democrats become so afraid to be Democrats, to stand up for their beliefs and deny the Republicans votes on their crappy legislation?  Or go seeking some mushy middle ground to try to get Republicans on board?

    It would be refreshing for these Senators to just be honest (ha, that's a good one) and say: "I don't like this bill and I'm not voting for it; I don't care what everyone else does.  If all it takes is a simple majority, we'll see where it ends up.  Maybe I won't get my way, but that's life."  

    There isn't a speck of courage in the corridors of power; just mealy-mouthed hypocrisy washed down with oceans of cash.

    What do you think about this? (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:27:48 AM EST
    Judd Gregg's take on reconciliation

    Reconciliation is not the right path to achieve this goal. The process first emerged to give Congress a tool to help bring spending and revenues in line with the fiscal policy assumed in the budget resolution. In short, the intended purpose of reconciliation is to make sure there is a way to enact, via a simple majority vote, changes to fiscal policy levers that will implement the budget totals, not to force through, using an expedited process, drastic and expensive new policies that will affect every American household.

    The hue and cry over the stalled health care bill and the rumored use of reconciliation as a fallback strategy prompt the question: How exactly would this work? To start, any legislative language considered under reconciliation would be subject to the narrow confines of the process.

    There are 18 hurdles, in the form of budget points of order, that any reconciliation legislation would have to clear. Further, the Byrd rule, which prohibits extraneous provisions from being included, poses several additional points of order that could be raised against the bill. If passing legislation can be compared with making sausage, then passing health care through reconciliation would be like making Swiss cheese -- the result would be huge gaps in policy, missing legislative text and misaligned, minimized goals.

    A reconciliation package would be hurried through in less than three working days. In the U.S. Senate, a minority of one usually has the unique right to be heard. But through the procedural confines of reconciliation, only a select few get to speak. Major policy changes that have long-term effects deserve thoughtful consideration and lots of sunshine -- using reconciliation would wave that away. Think about how long your child will deliberate before choosing a university, how long it takes to assess investment or retirement plans for your family's future or even how long it takes to find your next home. Doesn't health reform deserve the same careful consideration?

    this misses the point (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by CST on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:36:48 AM EST
    that hcr already passed the senate.  So it would only be changes to that that would be subject to reconcilliation.  Like the excise tax.  Or extra funding for medicare.  Those are clearly budget issues.

    The comprehensive reform is already through with 60 votes.  If the house wants other changes that aren't related to the budget (like removing the anti-trust exemption) - they can pass those on a seperate bill - and let them filibuster popular changes.


    What about (none / 0) (#6)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:39:07 AM EST
    all the specil goodies doled out to Nebraska and Vermont and Michigan etc?  Considered budgetary?

    What does the word "budgetary" (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:41:14 AM EST
    mean to you?

    Some of them (none / 0) (#9)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:46:04 AM EST
    are policy, which can't be changed during reconciliation.

    Are "budgetary" and "policy" (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:47:49 AM EST
    mutually exclusive? Of course not.

    In fact they are inextricably intertwined.


    So by your logic (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:49:59 AM EST
    Everything can be considered in reconciliation, even though that's not what parliamentarians and experts on these things say?

    Not at all (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 11:11:35 AM EST
    I wish it would be that way, but the application of the Byrd Rule is clear - only proposals that have BUDGETARY impact are eligible for reconciliation.

    Not every policy has a budgetary impact.

    Consider the no preexisting conditions regulation. that clearly has not budgetary impact.

    But THEN consider Medicaid expansion. Suppose in reconciliation, the eligibility level is raised from 133% to 150%. Clearly both policy AND budgetary impact. Thus eligible for reconciliation.


    Thank you. (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 11:15:12 AM EST
    it's about extra medicare funding (none / 0) (#13)
    by CST on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:51:01 AM EST
    which is budgetary - #1

    and #2 - I really don't care that much if that stuff stays.  My state got extra money too.  It's about the only thing we got besides a higher mandate and excise tax.

    I would prefer if all the states got that deal.  But even if my state wasn't getting it, these are kind of small issues that people just cling to to nitpik.  In the grand scheme of things, they don't really make much of a difference to me in terms of whether or not I think it's worth it to pass the entire bill.


    What do you think of it? (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:40:44 AM EST
    When it came to drilling in ANWR, Gregg had no objections.

    When it came to UNbalancing the budget, Gregg was all for it.

    Honestly, I do not understand you sometimes. you act like you do not already know these things. To what purpose, I have no idea.


    Move to strike (none / 0) (#11)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:48:54 AM EST
    as irrelevant, counselor - because Gregg had no objections to drilling in ANWR, he can't make good points about health care, ones that should at least be considered and debated?  That's like saying because you support Obama's Afghanistan policy, anything you say about health care shouldn't be considered.

    it show that he is being a hypocrit (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by CST on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:53:56 AM EST
    since he was willing to use it on one non-budgetary matter, but not on another.  So when he pretends to stand on that principle, he is really just talking out of both sides of his mouth.

    In other words, he is fine with it when he agrees with the policy.  So the real reason he is against it now is that he doesn't agree with the policy, not that he has any real problems with the process.  Despite the fact that he is saying otherwise.


    A poltician who's a hypocrite? (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 10:58:39 AM EST
    Stop the presses.

    Again, just because someone is a hypocrite doesn't mean what they say in a particular case doesn't mean it isn't worth looking at beyond the lens of "He's a Republican / Centrist Democrat who said that, so it must not be true."


    "Republican/Centrist Democrat" (none / 0) (#24)
    by MKS on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 01:05:05 PM EST
    Interesting choice of words.....

    Saving time (none / 0) (#25)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 01:08:50 PM EST
    What I was thinking  either / or, instead of typing the sentence twice.

    Saying that as a Centrist Democrat...


    Motion denied (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 11:00:35 AM EST
    Your witness is being impeached.

    Then (1.00 / 0) (#17)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 11:05:39 AM EST
    We should never listen to any politician, any staffer, any media person, any blogger, because at some point, they've all been hypocrites, so anything they ever say or write about anything ever again cannot be trusted - down to even "The sky is blue today."

    Got it.


    No (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 11:12:50 AM EST
    Listen to them but realize who they are and subject them to cross examination.

    This is fairly simple lawyer stuff it seems to me.

    I am not making a motion to disqualify the witness. I am merely impeaching him.


    But if they pass HCR via reconciliation (none / 0) (#23)
    by MKS on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 01:03:17 PM EST
    it will make the Republicans really, really mad.

      They will...filibuster and slow everything down.....They, when in the majority again, will use the nuclear option when it comes to the filibuster.

    We really can't have the Republicans mad at Democrats....


    Oh noes (none / 0) (#31)
    by cawaltz on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 02:58:46 PM EST
    and then they might call us socialists and accuse us of being "tax and spend." The inhumanity and horror of it all!

    I label it predictable crap (none / 0) (#21)
    by cal1942 on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 12:00:25 PM EST
    His claim that a decision in three working days is too hasty is really disingenuous since legislation has normally been through exhaustive weeks or months of hearings, debate and lobbying.  

    He's really suggesting that a change that affects the budget be snowed under without any sunshine whatsoever and that it be done without any debate.

    The last thing that a Judd Gregg wants is sunshine.

    The electors have the ultimate say about whether legislation is beneficial and can exercise their authority in the next election just as a college decision can be changed at the next term/semester or an investment strategy can be changed, etc.


    I don't think Landrieu is the real (none / 0) (#27)
    by MKS on Thu Feb 04, 2010 at 01:35:15 PM EST
    problem....She is from a very very conservative state....Let her vote against HCR and the jobs bill and then bypass her and go via reconciliation...